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Au Pair

What does an Au Pair do?

An au pair is a person who takes care of the children in a host family. Families hire au pairs to look after their children, either at home or while they are away on holiday. In South Africa, local working parents might also employ au pairs to look after their children while they are at work. As an au pair, your responsibilities will be varied and will include tasks related to the family’s children.

Your primary responsibility will be to look after children, and to make sure that they are safe and happy. Your day-to-day life will include: playing with and entertaining the children; preparing meals and snacks for the children; bathing and dressing the children; helping school-age children by packing lunches, taking them to school, and helping them with homework; taking the children on outings, to playdates, and to other activities.

Keep in mind you will not be expected to perform tasks that are unrelated to children or include heavy manual labour such as housecleaning, garden maintenance or other types of chores.


What qualifications do I need?

Choosing to become an au pair does not require years of studying after you have matriculated. The basic requirements are first aid skills; a sober lifestyle and no criminal background; a valid driver’s licence with at least one year’s driving experience; good health; and a mature and positive attitude. However, should you achieve a diploma in childcare while applying for an au pair position, your studies will boost your future earning potential. Your diploma will also allow you to work as a fully qualified early childhood educator in South Africa and to register with the South African Council for Educators (SACE). 

What subjects do I need?

Life Sciences
Physical Sciences
Second Foreign Language (if available)


Where can I study?

Northlink College
National Diploma in Early Childhood Development

False Bay College
National Diploma in Early Childhood Development

Montessori Centre
National Diploma in Early Childhood Development

South African Institute for Learning
National Diploma in Early Childhood Development

Where can I get more info?

South African Council for Educators (SACE) - www.sace.org.za
Independent Schools Association of South Africa - www.isasa.org


Interview with an Au Pair

Naschenka Du Bois | AU PAIR | Private family

Naschenka Du Bois | AU PAIR | Private family


Why did you choose to become an au pair?
I have loved babies and young children since I was very young, so being an au pair seemed to be the perfect job for me. I initially wanted to work part time only, while studying, but it evolved into full-time work that I’ve been doing for 13 years now. 

What training did you undergo? 
I didn’t do formal training, though there are places where you can train as an au pair. I started off babysitting children of all ages in my neighbourhood while I was in school. I also read child development books to gain a better understanding of them. I got my driver’s licence and attended first aid courses. I got my police clearance and form 30 done, which I renew once or twice a year. In my fourth year of studying early childhood education I met the first family I au paired for. I started off babysitting once or twice a week in the evenings and then it quickly developed into an au pair position, 5 days a week and earning a salary.

Describe a typical day
I am now with my third family. The girls (twins) are 18 months old. I arrive at 8:30am; help feed the kids breakfast and get them dressed. Play at home or leave around 9am to take the kids somewhere fun (park, playdate or a class). 10am is snack time. Back home 11:15am and prepare lunch while the kids play. 11:45am, lunch time. 12:15pm, nap time. 2:15pm, wake the kids. 2:30pm, snack time again. 3-4:30pm, play at home or out. 4:45pm, prepare dinner. 5:15pm, dinner time. 5:30pm, parents come home and I leave.

What do you enjoy most about your work? 
Spending time having fun with the children and becoming part of the family.

What don't you like?
It's hard to pinpoint anything; I love my job so much. Changing nappies or cleaning up vomit when the kids are sick? Haha, but who likes that anyway!

What hurdles have you had to overcome? 
I've had to learn to speak up and set boundaries for myself.

Any highlights? 
Traveling overseas with various families! I have been to England, Switzerland, Spain, Dubai and Thailand. 

Is experience as important as formal training in au pairing?
I would say experience AND common sense is more important and formal training is a bonus. A driver's license and first aid is a must. Just remember, any amount of experience or au pair training will still not completely prepare you, as all children are different. 

Is there a type of personality best suited to this work? 
This job would best suit an easy-going, happy, friendly, super patient person willing to learn and adjust to different families.

Your job in three words
Fun, challenging and rewarding.